Friday, September 26, 2008

Celebrating Life

This is a trailer for Bella

I watched this movie today and it moved me.

It had a good story, despite a few flaws. The acting was definitely above average. The film-making was smart and relevant. The characters were believable, real, and passionate. But the thing that struck me the most was the loud message of celebrating life. This is a rarity in most media today.

Without giving away too much of the movie, I will say I was really struck how the main character's passion for life came because of a tragedy in his own life. As we watch the film, we watch him show his concern for the frailty of our humanness through slowing down...getting to know people...putting others needs above his own...asking the hard questions. How many of us miss these things even when our lives are going great, let alone if we are in the midst of tragedy.

I know this post comes at an odd time since we are in the middle of a challenge to fast from media. But if this film moves you like it moved me, you will be challenged to celebrate life too.

Let me know what you think.

Peace - Mark

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Kingdom is Coming...

Rest is a short commodity at my house right now.

Baby Isaac is still living the Rock Star lifestyle: Up all night! Sleep all day! My older kids are starting to feel the crunch of getting up to ride the school bus with me every morning. So this week while I was having some prayer time, it is no wonder my thoughts went to Jesus' words in Matthew 11: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

But as I read the rest of that chapter, I started to realize some things about what Jesus was really saying. He said this after addressing the followers of John the Baptist, who was in prison wondering if he had done all of his ministry in vain. And Jesus also says this after doing a bunch of miracles in all these cities and having virtually no one change their lives because of them. And so I began to realize Jesus wasn't saying, "Come to me and rest and things will get better."

One of the central messages of Jesus and ultimately the whole Bible is There Is Another Way to Live!

Jesus calls this the kingdom of God.

And He says that this kingdom is available forever for all who choose it - choose His way. But He also says it is here now.

Which is why alot of people thought Jesus came to overthrow the Roman Empire.

And why alot of people think that if you follow Jesus everything will be peachy keen in your life. You know, no troubles.

For me, the concept of rest brings up visions of leaning back and sipping some sweet tea after successfully finishing a task. I'll be able to rest after I finish that project or complete that course or change the diaper. But what if Jesus is saying you can rest - not because of your ability to successfully complete a job - but because of your trust in Him to complete the work.

And what if the kingdom of God taking place here and now is all about followers of Christ living like we really trust Him to do what He says: To forgive us of our sins. To defeat . To turn this world - it's ways, it's problems, it's selfishness - right side up. Despite the fact that some of those things aren't complete yet?

So let me know what you think. What does it mean to rest like Jesus tells us to? What is the kingdom of God all about? How do we trust God despite our circumstances? Can't wait to read your thoughts.

God Bless. -Mark

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This is Isaac Quentin Elliott.

He was born at 10:17am on September 9th, 2008 at CMH in Bolivar, MO. He was 7lbs, 5 oz and 21 inches long. He is beautiful, isn't he?

Everything went wonderfully with the delivery. Shannon and Isaac are both home now - a little tired - but doing just great.

As our household grew by one this week, I have been reminded anew of the wonder of life. How it is truly a gift from God. There is nothing else that can explain the miracle of a little person being made from essentially nothing. How he has all these perfect parts that will grow and mature until he becomes a free-thinking, fully functioning . Nothing short of amazing.

Someone asked me the other day what was my favorite Bible verse. That is a hard question, but I know one of my favorites is John 10:10 as Jesus promises us - "I have come that they may life, and have it to the full."

That is what God has once again done in my life.

And the way that God answered so many prayers with this birth. The prayer of whether it was time to go to the hospital or not (it was). The prayer that the birth was easy and uncomplicated (the doctor barely got in position in time to catch the little guy it all happened so fast!). The prayer for him to be healthy. The prayer for him to come on his great Aunt Elaine's birthday (which he did.)

None of these prayers had to be answered. But God did...because He is good and loves us and wants to bless us and make Himself known to us and give us life to the full.

I am going to be sharing some more about this on Sunday night at our Extended Worship Service (starts at 6:30pm) but I just wanted to get the word out about our wonderful little guy and give God the glory for a great delivery. Amen!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The above video was used as the closer at last week's Fall Kickoff. It is also the promo for the new sermon series our High School portion of 180 Youth Ministries will be starting tonight: We are living in a Digital World & I am a Digital Girl!

The beginning of the school year is always such an exciting time. We see so many new faces and the return of a lot of familiar ones. There are always a lot of neat activities right at the start of school. Our Discipleship groups get back off the ground after the scattered summer months. It is always a refreshing time.

This school year I am feeling particularly burdened to build closer relationships. We often get so caught up in all the activity that we miss opportunities to just share in each others' lives. This year I am looking forward to getting closer to the guys in my D-Group. I am looking forward to loving new people who come in to our ministry. I am looking forward to more and more students taking on responsibilities which free me to take more time for people.

I am also excited about all our Freshmen!! I am really praying that we as a ministry can help them connect with God and the other students in this ministry.

So, I am really excited about this year, but I want to hear from you. What are your expectations? hopes? desires? fears? about this year?

May the God of all peace and grace bless you.